A New Definition of Weird
1 Corinthians 1:20-29, ‘Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the thing that are, so that no man may boast before God.’
Last week we began looking at how we as westerners can miss important messages in Scripture or even dismiss the Bible altogether because we strain it through the sieve of western thought and while we think we’re ahead of the rest of the world, we are in fact the ‘weirdo’s of the global neighbourhood’ because we are in the minority when it comes to our views.
Most of the rest of the world has far greater capacity to understand the message in Scripture because they’re NOT western and the message presented isn’t confusing or backward simply because the rest of the world already has a similar mindset.
Tonight we’ll continue with ‘A New Definition of Weird’, WEIRD being an acronym for
Last week we looked at Western and Educated and tonight we’ll cover Industrialized, Rich and Democratic.
Our lives have been so utterly transformed by our modern world that it doesn’t even remotely connect to generations past. We don’t sustain ourselves on the land by working alongside family through successive seasons of planting and harvest and therefore, Yeshua’s frequent parables about fisherman and farmers don’t evoke a visceral, or emotional response that comes about from a personal understanding of the context, as they would in the rest of the world that is heavily agricultural even to this day.
Rather, our experience in the West is instant entertainment, instant water, instant food, auto-washing machines, auto-mobiles, instant phone connection, internet, we don’t have to wait for anything. We can even fly around the world in 24hrs, travel through space and walk on the moon.
We can plot, scheme, contrive and manipulate others and circumstances, world governments say one thing and do another while jostling for power and control and therefore, we don’t feel we need God and that God is nothing more than an invention of needy people who don’t have the intellect or technology to be the source of their every need. They don’t see God as being the very power behind the food that grows that we need to survive, rather they see themselves the source of their existence and a secure future.
Remember what happened at Babel in the land of Shinar…
Genesis 11:1-9, ‘NOW the whole earth used the same language and the same words. It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. They said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.” And they used brick for stone and they used tar for mortar. They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”
The Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. The Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.”
So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.’
Just because men plot and scheme so that they can elevate themselves above God and their need of Him, doesn’t mean they will succeed. Mankind needs to understand that to stand opposite God and ‘oppose’ Him puts them in a very serious place.
Psalm 2:1-12, ‘Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!” He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury saying, “But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain.”
I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, “You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.”
Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; take warning O judges of the earth. Worship the Lord with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled.
How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!’
Rich: I know that there are those among us who are less fortunate than the majority of people living in the West, but when compared to the rest of the world, we are rich. This is why so many people try to live in the West both by legal and illegal means. The overwhelming majority of Westerners have easy access to food, housing and medical care and even in our most desperate circumstances, we can rely on social services for assistance. The daily concerns of people throughout history are simply non-issues for most of us living in the West.
We have good or reasonably good cars, good homes, nice clothes, DVD’s, computers, iPads, smart phones, trendy shoes, hairstyles, jewellery, nice perfumes, deodorant etc
50% or approximately 3 billion people live on LESS than $2.50 per day. 80% of people live on LESS than $10 per day. The highest standards of living are all nations deemed to be ‘western’…not necessarily ‘rich’ because there are some obscenely rich oil nations in the world who’s populations still live in primitive and deplorable conditions because of corruption and the rule of despotic regimes.
The Bible however doesn’t equate wealth with blessing or prosperity or God’s favour and approval. Having wealth and possessions isn’t a sin but without doubt, they can become both a distraction and the object of idolatry if not kept in check.
The Bible warns about the love of money (1 Tim 3:3, 6:10; Heb 13:5); it warns rich men about impending judgment because of their love for riches and greed that leads to oppressing others (Jam 5:1; Mk 10:17-27; Lk 12:15; Pro 23:4). Again, acquiring wealth is sinful in and of itself, but wealth can be incredibly seductive if uncontrolled.
The Church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:14-22 was very rich, so rich in fact they had no need for anything, of that church Yeshua was outside it not part of it and He had nothing good or encouraging to say about it. Yeshua went so far as to say that while they thought themselves rich and without any needs, He declared them to be wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked!
However in Matthew 5, Yeshua taught the people that real blessing came from being poor in spirit, mourning, gentle, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peace making, persecuted, reviled and falsely accused and hated by the world because of love for Him! What a contrast to a western mindset!!! What we think equals blessing doesn’t and what we don’t think equals blessing actually is!
Democratic: Our system of government is primarily at the whim of the people…we vote and determine who our leaders will be, we have the power and our leaders are there to do our bidding…and if they don’t, we give them the boot. We demand our rights, we have high expectations, we revel in our freedoms to do and say virtually as we please, but this system of government is contrary to the Bible.
Western societies in large part are motivated by selfish greed….the ‘What’s in it for me’ attitude rules our voting choices and this is why politicians spend their campaigns making promises to woo the voting public.
In our minds, ‘I – Me’ am at the centre of the world. What matters above all else is my rights, my needs, my wants, dreams and my aspirations…if it feels good, do it, I deserve it, the world owes me, why shouldn’t I have it, why should rich people have more than me…we are a ‘gimme’ generation.
Most Westerners find the idea that Yeshua is a King who will one day return to earth to rule the nations with a rod of iron! Rod of iron? That sounds positively despotic! Where’s the freedom in that!!!
Here’s the crux of the whole point…we are to conform to His Word not the other way around and in order to conform to His Word we have to know not just what it says but what it means and to know what it means it’s important that we learn what the context and setting was at the time God the Holy Spirit breathed it and revealed it.
Then we conform our cynical, selfish, Western heart and motivations to it so that we become transformed into His image rather than Him conforming to the image we want Him to be according to our preferences. This isn’t easy to do but thankfully, He is patient, gracious and is committed to our spiritual growth and maturity.
His Word is the means by which we are transformed.
Hebrews 4:12, ‘For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.’
His commitment to making us more and more like Him is equally comforting.
Philippians 1:6, ‘For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.’
Based on the works of Lois Tverberg.
*The original paper, called “The Weirdest People in the World?” was published by Joe Henrich, Steven Heine and Ara Norenzayan in Behavioral and Brain Sciences in 2010. This study has spurred further discussion in the secular media about differences between cultures, including the best-seller The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt. Haidt points out that WEIRD cultures base their ethical systems only on the freedoms and rights of the individual, unlike the rest of the world, which also bases its ethics on the value of community and of divinity—the idea that one’s principal duty is to God, not one’s self.